Rams hope hard work finally results in touchdowns
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Rams are looking for any kind of positive momentum to carry them to the end of a lost season.
Having defensive tackle Aaron Donald and punter Johnny Hekker selected to the Pro Bowl is a good start, representing defense and special teams units that have mostly played well, but getting quarterback Jared Goff and the offense on track is the main goal.
Goff practiced in full Tuesday and interim coach John Fassel anticipates the rookie clearing concussion protocol to start Saturday against the equally woeful San Francisco 49ers, with second-year quarterback Sean Mannion likely backing him up.
While Goff was inserted into the starting lineup in hopes of energizing the offense, the opposite has happened. In Goff's five starts the Rams are averaging just 3.98 yards per play. While Case Keenum led the offense to at least 300 yards of offense in five of his nine starts, Goff has managed the feat one time.
What makes those issues all the more confounding is that the Rams insist every week they are practicing well going into the game, only for that preparation not to carry over.
Offensive coordinator Rob Boras can't point to just one issue that has held the Rams back.
''The few times when you do find us clicking on all or most cylinders there is a little bit of rhythm and a little bit of execution, but it's been few and far between,'' Boras said. ''I know it sounds like a broken record but at the end of the day it's the consistency of doing our job play in and play out. It's been a struggle, to say the least, with finding that consistency. I always say it starts with us as coaches but then it's catching the football, it's not jumping offsides, it's not committing the penalties.''
What does please Boras is how the offense continues to work hard every week, even in the face of a stretch where the Rams have lost eight of nine and head coach Jeff Fisher was fired. After moving from St. Louis and being based in three different locations in Southern California, it would be easy for the fatigue of a long year to have hindered those habits.
''These guys, I love them,'' Boras said. ''They keep showing up. They want to get better. They are a prideful group. When we are putting the game plans in and telling them what to expect from San Francisco, their pens are moving just as much as they were when we were getting ready for Week 1.''
But those efforts have not resulted in quick starts, as the Rams have not scored a touchdown in the first three quarters of their last three games, only getting into the end zone three times in the fourth quarter when games were long since decided.
''You want to start off on a good foot and keep it going the whole game,'' offensive tackle Rob Havenstein said. ''It's something we haven't been able to do in the last couple weeks, but we're practicing every day for it.''
Fassel oversaw an aggressive approach in the 24-3 loss at Seattle, going for it on fourth down four times including a fake punt, and indicated he would authorize a similar strategy against the 49ers in hopes of sparking the offense against a team allowing 6.1 yards per play and 31 points per game.
''I would anticipate us being as aggressive if not more aggressive because why not?,'' Fassel said. ''We got to go for it. We got to make seven instead of three.''